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Ivors awards six first-timers in Composer Awards 2021

Nikki Isles, Alex Paxton, Anna Thorvaldsdottir, Zoe Rahman, Martin Iddon and Caroline Kraabel won their first Ivors at the Composers Awards held at the British Museum on 8 December 2021.

Nikki Isles, Alex Paxton, Anna Thorvaldsdottir, Zoe Rahman, Martin Iddon and Caroline Kraabel won their first Ivors at the Ivors Academy Composers Awards held at the British Museum on 8 December 2021.

Supported by PRS for Music and broadcast on BBC Radio 3 on 11 December, the 66th awards celebrated works by 10 composers across a range of styles and scales, including pieces by the legendary Cleveland Watkiss MBE, Alexander Goehr, Sarah Angliss and Thomas Adès. 

Vocal and choral works, large-scale and small chamber compositions, jazz, sound art and solo works were among the categories, with special awards to Zoe Rahman for impact, Innovation to Cleveland Watkiss, Visionary to Sarah Angliss and an Outstanding Works Collection to Alexander Goehr.  

Julian Joseph OBE, Chair of The Ivors Academy’s Awards Committee and Fellow of the Academy, said, ‘Every Ivor Novello awarded tonight goes from composers and performers to their peers, it’s what makes each one so distinct and special. I’m honoured to be part of recognising the artistry, imagination and determination that goes into creating such wonderful music and soundscapes. Our winners’ achievements fill me with huge admiration and respect, and I wish them all my fullest congratulations.’

The winning pieces and composers had praise heaped upon them by the judges. Nikki Iles’ work The Caged Bird was written during the early stages of lockdown in 2020 after all her other work was cancelled due to the pandemic. ‘The whole process of writing this piece was the start of re-connecting me to my music and it gently evolved, reflecting my journey during this time.’ The Ivors Academy jury said it was, ‘beautifully crafted, balanced and realised.’

Watkiss’s Innovation Award paid tribute to the breadth of his work from Bjork to the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. ‘Unique globally and in the annals of British jazz and contemporary music, uncategorisable,’ said the judges.

Alex Paxton, at just 31 years old, received nominations for three of his works. His winning Small Chamber Composition, Sometimes Voices was commissioned by the Swiss experimental band Hyper Duo for keyboard and drums. The judges said it was a, ‘highly innovative work of exceptional creative imagination and musical energy.’

Since they were first presented in 1956, the Ivor Novello Awards have been seen as the pinnacle of musical achievement for composers and songwriters. Previous winners have included Sir Harrison Birtwistle, Judith Weir CBE, Stan Tracey CBE and Sir John Rutter.